Jóhann Jóhannsson is an integral part of the Icelandic music scene who first rose to prominence in the late 1990s, acting as a musician, composer, and producer (and sometimes all three). He co-founded the art organization/record label Kitchen Motors in Reykjavík, through which he has initiated collaborations, promoted concerts, and produced films based on the ideals of experimentation and the quest for new art forms. Jóhannsson’s solo work is minimalist ambient in the truest sense, building on silence and the absence of sound in lieu of melody. With orchestration and electronics Jóhannsson crafts soundscapes that linger in the back of the mind or rise to thundering prominence.
His session starting off our second day of our broadcast at the KEX Hostel during KEXP’s first international broadcast in Reykjavik during the 2011 Iceland Airwaves festival (more info here) was absolutely sublime. Joined by an Icelandic string quartet and programmer/percussionist Matthias Hemstock, Jóhannsson built a small symphonic ambient masterpiece right on the spot. This is one you’ll need to go back to the KEXP archives to hear!